Our first $300 MRR and the lessons learned
About a year ago, as a traveler, I discovered that the mobile internet is still slow and that website speed is a big part of user experience, as are uptime and SSL. This was when we started Blinkloader. We approached the problem as software engineers and made many mistakes in sales and marketing. A year later, we are happy to share what we’ve learned and what we are excited to do next.
Everything seemed to go well.
A friend posted about how happy he was with one of our integrations. His websites had a lot of images that were optimized with one of our services.
😱 @blinkloader reduced me 63GB of images from Sheet2Site & DarkModeList in 14 days ⚡ Loading speed 3-4 times faster now— Andrey Azimov (@AndreyAzimov) 6 June 2018
- Lazy load
- Blurry images transition effect like Medium
- Any image source
- Easy integration
Thanks @makarochkin who created this. DM him for FREE trial
4,000 impressions. By the end of the day only four people reached out to us.
None of them became our clients.
At that time, our primary product was automatic image optimization, which we battle-tested and invested about $15,000 into the development and maintenance of.
Our early users have saved terabytes of image traffic bandwidth for their visitors. Thus, we did not doubt the value of what we’ve built.
However, there was something fundamentally wrong with our sales process, so we decided to go back to the drawing board.
Debugging Our Sales Cycle
As an avid HN reader, I was lucky to stumble upon a guide from Entrepid Partners. The guide was called “How to Sell.” Compared to the other books I bought on Amazon, its content was actionable and straight to the point.
It’s just what the doctor ordered.
The authors pointed out that overselling is one of the most common mistakes along with a willingness to shorten a sales cycle.
Basically, when there is a qualified lead on your list, your potential client should understand that there is an urgent problem that they need to solve. Otherwise, they would think that a solution is not relevant to them.
Yes, we followed the steps. It just didn’t scale.
According to the the article by Christoph Janz, to build a web company with $100 million in annual revenues, you mainly need one of the following:
- 1,000 enterprise customers paying you $100k+ per year
- 10,000 medium-sized companies paying you $10k+ per year
- 100,000 small businesses paying you $1k+ per year
- 1 million consumers paying you $100+ per year
- 10 million active consumers who you monetize at $10+ per year
An illustration from the same source is also helpful:
Using those metaphors, we could say that our image optimization solution would be a big rabbit or a young deer, with an average check around $2,000 per year.
We hit a wall because there was one thing we didn’t consider.
Any kind of software integration is time-consuming. Developer teams usually have their own roadmaps, sprint planning processes, quality assurance, etc., even if the solution takes less than a day to integrate.
What would be an optimal time to close a deal?
According to Jason Lemkin:
- Deals around $2,000/year should close within 14 days on average;
- Deals around $5,000/year should close within 30 days on average;
- Deals around $25,000/year should close within 90 days on average;
- Deals around $100,000/year should close within 90–180 days on average;
- Deals $100,000+ per year will take an of average 3–6 months to close.
One or two months instead of two weeks.
This is how we achieved our first $300 of monthly recurring revenue.
There had to be a better way.
We are glad to announce that we have found one!
Introducing a New Free Service
Blinkloader is a website optimization platform.
To understand what to improve in the first place, they could use a performance test. Maybe everything is great already.
If we could provide marketers and SEO specialists with an informative audit, we could deliver instant value. That would dramatically shorten our sales cycle.
It’s easier to bring users to a landing page with a clear value proposition where they can come back and learn new things.
Currently, there are three major performance tests on the market:
- WebPagetest (https://www.webpagetest.org);
- Pingdom Website Speed Test (https://tools.pingdom.com);
- PageSpeed Insights (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights).
All of them have two significant problems:
- They do not compare you with competitors.
- They don’t test pages that are actually showing up in search results.
In July 2018, page speed became a ranking factor for mobile searches on Google. These days, in some (if not many) cases, website performance can be a critical factor that makes your website pages one or two positions lower in search results.
To help you get an additional advantage, we have developed our own test. It is free and has already helped many users during beta testing.
Introducing the Blinkloader competitive performance test! 🎉
Let’s see it in action.
We’ll take a website with many organic search keywords. In our case, that would be “upwork.com,” with search keywords as “hire python developers.”
The result is classic. Just take a look at that.
Toptal and Upwork are direct competitors. Both of them have nearly identical pages.
There are many factors that Google takes into consideration. Website speed is one of them. Toptal is positioned higher and loads about 10 seconds faster.
Our performance test is amazing.
It tested a relevant page (https://www.upwork.com/hire/python-developers/) and also reviewed the competitors.
Optimizing a website without any context is not that useful.
It’s important to know how much faster you need to be.
My second example is also a good one.
Webmasters at Dominos care about their competition and users.
Their page has the top performance among other search results. “Order pizza online” in the California region are some of the most competitive organic search keywords.
Dominos did an outstanding job, indeed. You could be doing that, as well!
Our plans for this new service are huge. Currently, we are working on a PRO version where you can log in with your Google account and analyze all your organic search keywords automatically.
When the foundation is ready, we will roll out our shiny image optimization service and several new apps. This seems to be the best path to follow.
There is nothing else I could add to this.
Delight your visitors and outperform your competition.
You already know where to start:
Update from Aug 21st 2018: we have introduced new metrics to the test, now instead of page load time we rely on TTI (time to interactive) and FMP (first meaningful paint). This is why you may observe different results by following those links. Keep in mind, that page speed is only one out of 100+ factors having impact on ranking.